2008-06-11 / Opinion

Up The Creek Without A Paddle

It's not the time, it's what we do while we're here
by Terry Toole

I wish I had known my father better, but I knew him pretty good.

All my life, I have felt a bit cheated because I lost my dad when I was 13. My dad was accidentally killed by a shotgun blast to the abdomen when he was cleaning his shotgun. It almost cut him in to, but he lived several hours and was able to tell Ma and me that it was accidental and stupid and that he loved us very much. I remember a line of men giving him their blood and waiting to give.

He loaned his shotgun to a cousin, and the cousin brought it back rusty and loaded. I never knew him to lend his guns. Dad had shucked out four shells, but the fifth one stuck and he thought it was empty.

That same gun almost got me several months later when I was getting over a fence. I was taught to shuck the shells out before crossing, and I thought I did. One stuck in the chamber, and as I was crossing, the gun went off. It didn't get me, but it was close. I believe that saying that guns don't kill people, people kill people. Needless to say, I have a high respect for guns.

I guess my five-year-old grandson got me to remembering when he asked me a few days ago, "Papa, why do you have those guns?"

Now this boy loves guns, knives and the like. He is always sword fighting or wrestling, but mostly playing ball.

I had to think quickly to answer his question, and am not sure if it was the right answer.

I told him that all of my life I was taught to love guns, but to have a high respect for them. I told him that times were different when I came up, and having a BB gun was a sign that your parents trusted you with this weapon. Before I touched a gun or rifle,I had many "lessons" on care and respect for the weapon and especially others around me. I told him that it was nothing to see one or two boys walking down the streets of Colquitt with shotguns or riflesand a dog or two, going hunting. I told him that things had changed. I've either gotten too old to hunt or the conditions have changed, maybe both.

My other two grandchildren never showed a desire to hunt, so my guns, now all antiques like me, are in the gun case. They all have had their day and were well taken care of. Don't know where they will go after I'm gone.

Back to my dad - he was a man's man. He worked hard when he worked and played hard when he played. He was a sportsman. He loved to hunt and fish and play sports, especially baseball. He was tough, but loving.

I never saw him to play baseball, but many of his many, many friends told me what a good player he was in his younger days. I know that he was a superior hunter and fisherman in my young life. He taught me much in those 13 years that has helped daily. It never ceases to amaze me when people come and tell me what my dad did for them, and no one but them knew.

My dad taught me to be as kind to anyone and everyone as he or she will let you, and be a friend if possible even if the person doesn't seem to want a friend. He taught me to do with what I had and never envy others for their good fortunes. He taught me to share my good fortune.

My dad was not a perfect man, as most of us, but he loved us and gave us more than we deserved. My late brother, Sammy, was really cheated. I was the man in the family when he really needed a dad. We both did, and our mother did a wonderful job trying to be both. As Mrs. Shepard once told Ma, "I guess those boys do pretty good for the raising they've had."

Most of the men who have problems later in life, according to Zig Ziglar, lacked a father figure in their lives.

I look back and see so many things that I could have or should have done to help my children, but as Mrs. Shepard said- - -

To all of you who have a dad, love him. For all of those who don't have a dad, hopefully you have a grandpa or an uncle that will stand in for the missing dad.

There are exceptions, but most parents love their children. Those who don't take care of their own have lots to answer for as they go through life.

May every father, especially you brand new dads, have a wonderful Father's Day and those who don't, have fond memories as I do.

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